Hit by a car and frozen to the ground … left outside, locked in a tiny cage, to freeze to death overnight … burned to death when a space heater fell over: These wintertime horror stories are a real-life nightmare unfolding for dogs across the country. As frigid winter weather blasts large parts of the U.S., dogs left outdoors are suffering and dying. From Michigan to Florida, tragic reports are surfacing of dogs actually freezing to death. The following recent stories demonstrate how important it is to keep dogs safe—and indoors—during winter weather.
According to reports, a man abandoned a dog in a small cage outside a Detroit animal shelter, which had closed for the night. Captured on the security footage shown above, the man left the animal in the cold without attempting to notify anyone. When shelter workers returned in the morning, they found the dog, frozen to death, still inside the cage. This video surfaced just days after a dog in Toledo, Ohio, was found dead, “frozen solid” on a porch.
In Flint, Michigan, a woman called animal control after a loose or stray dog was hit by a car and collapsed in her backyard. When authorities arrived, the injured animal had to be carefully pried free from the ground where he was lying, as he had literally frozen to it. Luckily, he survived.
Horrifying video footage from Cantonment, Florida, reveals a less-obvious way cold weather can kill. Local news reports are covering an incident in which a space heater, left in a small kennel to keep several dogs warm, tipped over and started a fire. The blaze claimed the lives of at least four dogs. Warning: A graphic image follows the video.
Remember: Although they have fur coats, dogs and other animals can still suffer from frostbite and exposure as well as dehydration when water sources freeze. Cold temperatures mean extra hardship for “backyard dogs,” who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care.
- Keep animals indoors. Puppies and kittens, elderly and small animals, and dogs with short hair—including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans—are particularly susceptible to the elements. Short-haired animals will also benefit from warm sweaters or coats during brief trips outside to relieve themselves.
- Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam outdoors without supervision. Being outside unattended is always dangerous for our animal companions, but in cold weather, it presents even more hazards. Cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars in order to get near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the vehicle is started. Animals can also become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground.
- Keep an eye out for strays. Take unidentified animals indoors until you can find their guardians, or transport them to an animal shelter. If strays are wild or unapproachable, provide food, water, and shelter (stray cats will appreciate a small doghouse filled with warm bedding), and call your local humane society for assistance with trapping them and getting them indoors.
- Clean off your dogs’ legs, feet, and stomach after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make animals sick if ingested while they clean themselves.
- If you see dogs left outdoors in extreme weather without proper shelter, alert the authorities. If a “backyard dog” is in imminent danger of succumbing to the harsh cold, notify authorities immediately. Refer to our guide for more information on responding to cruelty to animals.
If you want to help “outdoor dogs” get into a sturdy, warm doghouse, become an “Angel for Animals” sponsor and help PETA provide life-changing shelter to a dog in desperate need.